- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - Officials in Butte-Silver Bow County are working to change a previously unenforced ordinance that prohibits the sale of live mice and rats and is now threatening the livelihood of a pet store owner who sells rodents and the snakes that eat them.

The animal control department told “Fish Bowl” owner Mark Dawson that he had to quit selling rodents as of Jan. 1 after a child was bitten by a rat that was traced back to Dawson’s store.

Commissioner Brendan McDonough tells The Montana Standard (http://bit.ly/1aIsLEq ) he wants to change the ordinance to allow the sale of “feeder” rodents. He has it in the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, but said changing the ordinance could take six weeks.

Chief Executive Matt Vincent said that’s not quick enough and he’s asking the county attorney and animal control to do “whatever we need to do” so the pet shop can immediately resume sales.

Dawson said he has sold mice and rats for 17 years, but when the local government began enforcing the ban on those sales he quit selling snakes, too, because he couldn’t sell food to their owners. He said the county’s decision is costing him thousands of dollars.

Dawson said even with an exception he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to recoup his customers.

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Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com